Monday, January 16, 2017

10 Most Disappointing Products of 2016

I enjoyed auxiliary beauty's post on this theme so much that I decided to write my own. After all, complaining is one of my hobbies. When I tried to come up with a list of last year's shittiest shit, I ended up with an even 10, so that's satisfying.

Some of these things aren't bad products, exactly, but they were let-downs for me. Others are just straight up garbage. I've reviewed them all in the past (again with the complaining hobby--such a good motivator!), so I'll just give a brief comment here and link to the previous post. Here are the products that bummed me out in 2016, in no particular order:

1. Maybelline Color Tattoo in Vintage Plum

Vintage Plum may be one of the worst makeup products I've ever bought in my entire life. Patchy and unusable. It was all the more disappointing because the color was so perfect for me. Reviewed here.

2. Freeman Honeydew & Chamomile Sleeping Mask

Not only did this stuff break me out (which probably wouldn't happen for everyone who used it), it caused a burning sensation on parts of my face and had a horribly strong fake melon stench. Reviewed here.

3. Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Matte Luxe

It's not a good color for me, which obviously isn't the lipstick's fault. But the fact that it somehow just would not adhere to the surface of my lips? For that I blame Milani. Reviewed here.

4. Makeup Geek Matte Eyeshadow in Fairytale

This isn't a terrible eyeshadow, exactly, it just wasn't the color I was looking for (my fault) and the performance was mediocre at best, so for my first order from Makeup Geek, it was a let-down. Especially when compared to their excellent duochromes. Reviewed here.

5. L.A. Girl Pro Conceal HD Concealer

This concealer also wasn't awful, but I had high expectations after reading so many rave reviews claiming that it is one of the most effective and opaque concealers available at the drugstore. It was just average. Reviewed here.

6. Hard Candy Metallic Mousse Lip Color in Smoke & Mirrors

Ok, so this made my mouth look like a robot's butthole. That's the nature of metallic liquid lipsticks. The bigger problem was that the color of the product in the tube was completely different from the color on my lips. Reviewed here.

7. Wet N Wild (Reformulated) ColorIcon Blush in Pearlescent Pink

It's a fine blush. But I was really disappointed to find that it's a totally different color from the original Pearlescent Pink, which is a favorite of mine. In fact, it's not even very pink at all. Reviewed here.

8. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner

Another product that just didn't live up to the hype for me, considering so many people consider it a holy grail liner. Not only did it not "stay all day," the tip became completely frayed and unusable while there was still a lot of product left. Reviewed here.

9. e.l.f. 3-in-1 Mascara

This one is a little different, because I had used and loved this product before. But I bought the mascara above last spring, and it was so dried up that the brush got stuck in the tube the first time I opened it. When I tried to exchange it, I found four more tubes that were the same. The fifth brush actually came out, but when I got it home, it was still so dry that I was only able to use it a handful of times. I don't know if my CVS just had particularly old stock (but the e.l.f. display hadn't been around long) or what, but I'm not going to take my chances with this stuff again. Too bad, because it's not easy to find a tubing mascara for less than $5!

10. Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Poe

Does it count as a disappointment if I knew the stuff was going to be bad, but I bought it anyway? I don't regret buying this lipstick, but it sure is a pain in the ass to apply. Reviewed here.

I'm not sure there are any real lessons to be learned here. Sure, several of these were impulse purchases, but several had been carefully researched, and some I had even owned (in one form or another) before! Some were very cheap, but others were not cheap at all. Shrug?

What were your biggest duds last year?

TheBalm on HauteLook 40-50% off

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TheBalm seems to be the only sale on HauteLook that inspires me these days. They have so many random brands. But they have a bunch of palettes for 50% off and I've really been wanting the Balm Appetit one. Ugh, stupid no buy. There's also the Meet Matte Trimony (oh god they have the stupidest non-puns, because doesn't a pun have to have a DOUBLE meaning, not just one meaning and something that makes no sense?). A big selection, in fact, including their liquid lipsticks, which I've heard are good. Personally, I've tried a lot of different products from this brand and liked everything except the concealer.

When you buy makeup from HauteLook, shipping is about $6 and you have to wait a couple of weeks for your order, fyi.

(They also have sales on Alterna and Kevyn Aucoin, if you're interested.)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Shopping: $7-9 blanket scarves on Amazon, American Apparel going out of business clearance

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These blanket scarves plaid shawls look pretty nice for 9 bucks, right? Or $7 with code 2IH4OTIW. And they have 4.5 stars. I mean, they're acrylic but they're supposedly soft and machine washable, so . . . maybe I am just cold right now.

Any other good deals out there that we should know about?

ETA: I guess American Apparel went bankrupt and will be closing all its stores by April. Yay? That means 40% off everything. Yay!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Mega Urban Decay Vice Lipstick Swatch Comparison + Dupe Search (and a partial lipstick inventory)

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Mega Urban Decay Vice Lipstick Swatch Comparison and Dupe Search

Urban Decay managed to hook me with that 24-shade sample pod thingy that everyone and their mother got last year. There's no way I would have given Rock Steady a second glance if I hadn't tried it on--and there's no way I would have bothered to try on what looked like a basic dark red--without that sample. But it turned out to be one of the most flattering lipsticks I've ever put on my face. You know those rare colors that seem to just light up your complexion? And harmonize seamlessly and look somehow natural even though they really aren't at all? Rock Steady is that, for me. But I was sure that in all my reds and burgundies and berries, I had to have something that was a dupe, or close enough. So I decided to do some comparison swatches.

And then I thought, what the hell, I should just go ahead and compare the rest of these samples to all the lipsticks I have. That could be fun. (As you may suspect, this has now become one of my longest posts ever, so buckle up. Or settle in. Or something.)

To do that, I had to pull out all of my lipsticks (both bullets and liquids) and pile them on my bed. Then I had to divide them into color categories: reds, rose/mauve/MLBBs ("my lips but better"), nudes, pinks, berries and fuchsias, corals and oranges, vampy shades and purples, and browns. Once they were all laid out like that I couldn't help but count them. 57! That's too many. Ugh. Mind you, that number includes minis as well as a bunch that I don't wear but have been stuck in a drawer for swatching. It doesn't, however, include anything in a pan, like my So Choix samples.

(Um, and I've bought a few new lipsticks since I finished swatching these. But no more money will be spent on lipstick in the foreseeable future.)

I didn't count individual categories, but by far the largest were the MLBBs and the reds. The MLBBs make sense, because I wear them more than anything else. The reds on the other hand . . . how did that happen? I guess it's in part because I think I should wear red more, and in part because when you get a freebie lipstick, it's almost always red. (And here I am writing a post a post about coveting another red lipstick.) The smallest categories were nudes, browns, oranges, and pinks. Like pinky-pinks, not berry or fuchsia or magenta.

On to the swatches! Not everything in my hoard has been swatched here, because I chose things based on how similar they were to the Urban Decay samples. I'm not going to review these lipsticks, Urban Decay or otherwise, unless I feel particularly compelled. I didn't swatch Urban Decay samples if I had nothing comparable, like Big Bang, which is basically a clear base with lots of pink glitter in it. Also, the swatches here are meant simply to compare colors and, to some extent, finishes. You shouldn't draw any conclusions about opacity or anything like that based on my photos alone, because I swatched the UD samples with a q-tip in most cases, but the others were applied directly from the bullets.

My main purpose here was to see if I had any dupes in my hoard, but as you'll see, there weren't too many. Nevertheless, I hope this will still serve as a useful point of reference for some of you, because you may be able to see how these things compare to lipsticks you already own. It was a valuable exercise for me.

Since Rock Steady was where I began . . . it's where I'll begin. As you can see, I actually didn't have anything quite like it. It's a dark red wine with a bit of berry in it. On my lips, it looks like strawberry jam. Rock Steady (cream finish) and Gash (cream finish) are quite similar, in fact, with Rock Steady being just a touch brighter. If you are not a makeup person, then all of these variations of red probably look pretty close--but (a) I chose the ones I had that were most similar to compare, and (b) you are probably a makeup person if you're reading this. You know, then, that red lipstick is a bitch and so slight variations can mean the difference between perfectly flattering and totally off. For instance, the "universally flattering" Nars Cruella (5) looks awful on me.

Swatches of 1. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Rock Steady; 2. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Gash; 3. Bite Beauty Scarlet; 4. Maybelline Creamy Matte in Divine Wine; 5. Nars Cruella; 6. Urban Decay Bad Blood; and 7. NYX Matte Perfect Red

1. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Rock Steady; 2. Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Gash; 3. Bite Beauty Scarlet (reviewed here); 4. Maybelline Creamy Matte in Divine Wine (reviewed here); 5. Nars Cruella; 6. Urban Decay Bad Blood; and 7. NYX Matte Perfect Red.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

(Sort of) free "luxury" beauty sample box from Amazon for Prime members (plus Zoya deal)

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I'm working on a swatch-a-thon right now, so please accept this small offering in the meantime. Amazon is selling a box of samples for $20 (which probably isn't worth $20), but then you get a $20 credit to use in their luxury beauty department. So if you were planning to buy something from that department anyway (Stila, Mario Badescu, Jack Black, Oribe, OPI, Bioderma, La Roche-Posay, L'Occitane, theBalm, LORAC, etc.), you would basically be getting the box of samples for free with your purchase. Here are all the products that are eligible. Note that they say the samples in the box "may vary," and that this offer is only available for Prime members.

Also, Clara reminded me that Zoya is doing their usual deal where you get 4 "free" bottles of polish (or lipstick, this time) with $15 shipping. Or, as I like to think of it, 4 bottles for $3.75 each with free shipping. Use code 4ZOYA, ends Jan. 16.

Obviously, I will not be indulging in these deals, because of my No Buy, but if you decide to go for one of them, please allow me to live vicariously through you.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

More Sephora X shades available for $5 on website

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Just a quick update to let those of you who are mourning the loss of Sephora X nail polish that there are about 21 shades available online for $5 right now. Centigrade looks nice! There are also some interesting metallic/glitter shades. I think this is about the same number my local store had, though I'm not sure if they were the same colors.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Travel Size/Minis from Sephora: value by the ounce (from The Chrysalis Project)

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This is a quick note to share a useful post I came across from The Chrysalis Project comparing the cost per ounce of various full size and regular size products from Sephora. It's interesting that some travel size things are much more expensive, while others are actually cheaper. So if you're buying something over and over, like the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, you might actually be better off buying a bunch of the minis (at least if your shade is one of the only two minis they offer). The post is from last July, so not everything Sephora has right now is included (like the outrageously priced mini Hourglass powders). Also, I realize that the price per ounce is not the only or always the best consideration when determining value. For instance, even though the Urban Decay travel size Perversion mascara is more expensive per ounce than the regular size, it lasted me more than 3 months of daily use. So if you're someone who replaces your mascara every three months, there's not much point trashing all that extra $22 mascara instead of just finishing up the $10 mascara.

Do you prefer travel size/mini products for any reason other than value? Anything else missing from this list that you think is worth considering?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Review of L'Oreal EverPure Sulfate-Free Volume Shampoo and Conditioner

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Influenster sent me this set of L'Oreal EverPure Volume Shampoo and Conditioner recently for free to test and review (opinions here are my own, of course). I was pretty pleased to get it, because I've been using a lot of L'Oreal shampoos and conditioners since the last ones they sent me, and I've been impressed by all of them. You know how sometimes it seems like most of the products in a line are basically the same, even though they are labeled for different hair types? The L'Oreal ones clearly perform differently and have obviously different textures and consistencies and so forth.

I hadn't tried any of the Ever (Pure) line, though, because I don't really care whether or not my hair products contain sulfates. I'm fine with sulfates/SLS. They don't really seem to fade color any faster, and they're mainly only harsh if your skin is sensitive to them, which mine isn't. Non-sulfate surfactants can be just as drying. But I'm not opposed to sulfate-free shampoos--I'm just not going to spend extra money for them.

I got the Volume products based on the survey I filled out on the Influenster site. I have fine, but not thin, hair that is very straight and could definitely stand some more body and volume. I don't know about you, but I've never really had much success with shampoos or conditioners that are supposed to add volume. Sometimes they are a little lighter (and/or less moisturizing), but they tend not to make my hair appear fuller. But I'm willing to be convinced, so I conducted a test.

The first photo below was taken after using my regular shampoo and conditioner, neither of which claim to improve volume. Then I added some oil/serum, blow dried, and combed down flyaways near my part.

Next up is a photo taken a couple of days later in which I followed the exact same routine and used all the same products, except that I subbed in the new L'Oreal EverPure Volume products for my usual shampoo and conditioner. Do you see more volume here?

I really don't. Maybe slightly less volume, if anything. So I'm still not convinced that shampoo and/or conditioner is the way to go if you want your hair to be fuller. Instead, I'd recommend the John Frieda 7-Day In Shower Volume Treatment (reviewed here with terrible photos) to increase volume moderately, but noticeably, throughout your hair, or root powder (like the ones reviewed here) to add major lift at the roots.

That said, these are not bad products. They effectively clean and condition. My hair felt smooth and soft after using them. I think you could definitely do worse, and if you want something simple and sulfate-free, this is a good option. The fragrance is nice, too. It's slightly floral, but mostly minty. Very clean and fresh. It is quite strong, however, and can overpower other scents you're wearing, so you have to really like it.

It was interesting to test these things out, but once I finish them, I will go back to my usual sulfate-full L'Oreal hair products, because they're more affordable and work a little better for my hair. Most L'Oreal shampoos and conditioners are about $6 for 24 oz., while the Ever ones are the same price for only 8.5 oz.

Any of you have strong feelings about sulfates? Have you tried the Ever products? Did you have luck with other options from the line?

(Note: Anyone can sign up for Influenster for free and get products to test. You don't need a blog, though using social media is probably necessary.)
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